|07-01-2010, 05:29 PM||#1|
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Footner, Hulbert: The Velvet Hand ... V1 1 Jul 2010
Hamilton, Ontario born novelist Hulbert Footner (2 Apr 1879 – 25 Nov 1944), wrote about what he knew: canoeing, New York and Chesapeake Bay. He moved to New York City as teenager, dabbled in acting (he toured briefly with William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes) and wrote magazine articles while supporting himself working as a clerk at a financial firm. As a freelancer for the New York Herald and Calgary Morning Albertan, he sent dispatches from two major canoeing adventures through north western Canada. Out of these flowed romantic novels and enough to purchase a summer home, "Charles' Gift", in MD and among the oldest homes in America. He continued to write magazine articles, plays for Broadway but soon turned to popular detective mystery novels beginning with The Fugutive Sleuth in 1916. He eventually wrote nearly 60 books, including an affectionate look at New York, histories of Maryland and about thirty mysteries. Madame Rosika Storey and Amos Lee Mappin were his two principle recurring sleuths, both fondly remembered today although his works are largely out of print.
Madame Rosika Storey is a detective living near Gramercy Park, NY, in the mid-1920s. Storey's secretary, companion and gushing admirer, Bella Brickley narrates as her hero solves crimes and straightens out people's problems. The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection calls her, "a stunningly beautiful young woman who describes herself as 'a practical psychologist--specializing in the feminine."
As Mike Grost puts it: "Hulbert Footner's tales of Madame Rosika Storey have a period charm. They tend not to be overwhelmingly brilliant as puzzle plots. His detective technique would have seemed familiar to Émile Gaboriau in the 1860's: footprints, rooms searched for hidden clues, an obvious suspect and a hidden suspect, mild sorts of financial skullduggery lurking in the background. ... Madame Storey is somewhat unusual as a great detective of the era who happens to be a woman. She works as a paid professional, uses her brains, is universally respected for her skill, and basically plays the same role in her world that Hercule Poirot does in his."
Madame Rosika Storey made an appearance in 5 novels and thirty novellas and short stories, many appearing in the pages of Argosy All-Weekly. The second anthology, The Velvet Hand, was published by the Crime Club Inc, NY in 1928. In this collection finds Madame Storey, and her ever faithful secretary Bella Brickely, solving crimes in England, France, America ... and even on a cruise ship bound for England. It includes: The Viper, The Steerers, The Pot of Pansies and The Legacy Hounds.